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Monday
Jan202014

The Great Blessing of the Waters by St. Sophronius of Jerusalem (AD 634-8)

On the Feast of the Theophany, Orthodox Christians celebrate Christ’s baptism. The service includes the blessing of all the holy water that will be used during the coming year. This water is sprinkled on people, icons, candles, and other things as a blessing; people also sip the holy water when they are ill. Worshippers keep bottles of holy water at home in their icon corners.

This text was written by St. Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem from 634 to 638. It was during his patriarchate that the Muslim army conquered Jerusalem.  The text below has been copied from http://www.mliles.com/melkite/holytheophanywaterblessprayer.shtml

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Priest: O Trinity, transcendent in essence, in goodness and in divinity, O Almighty, invisible and incomprehensible, who watch over all, O Creator of intelligent essences, of natures endowed with speech, O Goodness of utter and unapproachable brilliance, who enlighten every person who comes into the world: enlighten me also, your unworthy servant! Illuminate the eyes of my mind, that I may venture to praise your immeasurable goodness and your might; may the prayer that I offer be acceptable for the people here present. Let not my sins prevent the descent of the Holy Spirit upon this place, but permit me now without condemnation to cry out to You, O all-good Lord, and to say:

We glorify You, O Master and Lover of Mankind, Almighty King before eternity!

We glorify You, Creator and Maker of all!

We glorify You, only-begotten Son, who have no father with your Mother, and no mother with your Father.

In the preceding feast, we have seen You as a child, and in this present feast we see You as a perfect Man, O our perfect God, appearing out of Perfection:

For today we have attained the time of feasting, and the ranks of saints have joined us, and the angels celebrate together with men.

Today the grace of the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, comes down upon the waters.

Today there shines the Sun that never sets, and the world is sparkling with the light of the Lord.

Today the moon shines upon the world with the brightness of its rays.

Today the glittering stars adorn the universe with the radiance of their twinkling.

Today the clouds from heaven shed upon mankind a shower of justice.

Today the Uncreated One willingly permits the hands of his creature to be laid upon Him.

Today the Prophet and Forerunner comes close to the Master, and he stands in awe, a witness of the condescension of God towards us.

Today through the presence of the Lord the waters of the Jordan River are changed into remedies.

Today the whole universe is refreshed with mystical streams.

Today the sins of mankind are blotted out by the waters of the Jordan River.

Today paradise has been opened to mankind, and the Sun of righteousness has shone upon us.

Today the bitter water, as once with Moses and the people of Israel, is changed into sweetness by the presence of the Lord.

Today we are delivered from the ancient mourning, and, like a new Israel, we are saved.

Today we escape from darkness and, through the light of the knowledge of God, we are illumined.

Today the darkness of the world vanishes with the appearing of our God.

Today the whole creation is brightened from on high.oday errors are canceled, and a way of salvation is prepared for us by the coming of the Lord

Today the heavenly dwellers rejoice with those of the earth, and the dwellers of the earth with those of heaven.

Today the noble and eloquent assembly rejoices, the assembly of those of the true faith.

Today the Lord comes to be baptized, so that mankind may be lifted up.

Today the One who never has to bow inclines Himself before his servant so that He may set us free from bondage.

Today we have acquired the kingdom of heaven: for the Lord’s kingdom shall have no end.

Today the land and the sea divide between them the joy of the world, and the world is filled with gladness.

The waters saw You, O God, the waters saw You and shuddered.

The Jordan River turns back its course as it beholds the fire of the Godhead coming down upon it and entering it in the flesh.

The Jordan River turns back its course as it beholds the Holy Spirit descending in the form of a dove, and hovering above it

The Jordan River turns back its course as it beholds the Invisible made visible, the Creator existing in the flesh, and the Master in the form of a servant.

The Jordan River turns back its course, and the mountains shout with glee as they behold God in the flesh.

And the clouds give voice, and are filled with awe by the One who is coming, Light of light, true God of true God, for today in the Jordan River they saw the triumph of the Master. They saw Him drown in the Jordan River the death of sin, the thorn of error, and the bond of Hades, and bestow upon the world the baptism of salvation.

So also am I, your unworthy and sinful servant, encompassed by fear as I proclaim your great wonders; and I cry out reverently to You, and say:

The priest then says in a louder voice:

GREAT ARE YOU, O LORD, AND MARVELOUS ARE YOUR WORKS AND NO WORD IS SUFFICIENT TO PRAISE YOUR MARVELS.

GREAT ARE YOU, O LORD, AND MARVELOUS ARE YOUR WORKS AND NO WORD IS SUFFICIENT TO PRAISE YOUR MARVELS.

GREAT ARE YOU, O LORD, AND MARVELOUS ARE YOUR WORKS AND NO WORD IS SUFFICIENT TO PRAISE YOUR MARVELS.

For by your divine will You brought forth all things out of nothing into being; by your might you control all creation; by your providence You govern the universe, O You who made the whole world out of four elements and crowned the cycle of the year with four seasons.

The immaterial powers tremble before You;

the sun praises You;

the moon glorifies You;

the stars bless You;

the light obeys You;

the tempests tremble,

and the springs adore You.

You have spread out the heavens like a tent-cloth;

You fixed the earth upon the waters;

You have walled about the sea with sand;

You let the air flow about for our breathing.

The angelic powers minister to You;

the ranks of archangels worship You;

the many-eyed Cherubim and the six-winged Seraphim, standing around You and flying about You, hide their faces in fear of your unapproachable glory.

And You, O God, while remaining boundless, without beginning, and beyond all words deigned to come down upon earth, to assume the likeness of a servant, and to become like man.

Because of your compassionate mercy, O Master, You were unable to endure and to behold the race of mankind under the tyranny of the devil. For this reason You have come to save us.

We acknowledge your grace. We proclaim your mercy. We do not conceal your gracious acts. You have set mankind free; by your birth You have sanctified the Virgin’s womb; and since your manifestation all creation praises You.

For You, O our God, have appeared on earth and have dwelt among men. You sanctified the waters of the Jordan by sending down your Holy Spirit from heaven, and you have crushed the heads of the dragons who lurk there.

The Priest makes the sign of the Cross over the water three times, each time saying:

THEREFORE, O KING AND LOVER OF MANKIND, ALSO BE PRESENT NOW THROUGH THE DESCENT OF YOUR HOLY SPIRIT AND SANCTIFY + THIS WATER.

THEREFORE, O KING AND LOVER OF MANKIND, ALSO BE PRESENT NOW THROUGH THE DESCENT OF YOUR HOLY SPIRIT AND SANCTIFY + THIS WATER.

THEREFORE, O KING AND LOVER OF MANKIND, ALSO BE PRESENT NOW THROUGH THE DESCENT OF YOUR HOLY SPIRIT AND SANCTIFY + THIS WATER.

And give to it the grace of redemption and the blessing of the Jordan. Make it a source of incorruptibility, a gift of sanctification, a remission of sins, a remedy for sickness, a destruction of demons, inaccessible to the adverse powers, and filled with the might of your angels, so that all who drink and receive of it may be blessed in their souls and bodies, healed of their sufferings, sanctified in their homes, and may receive every befitting grace.

For You are our God, who, with water and the Spirit, restored our nature made old by sin.

You are our God, who drowned sin in the waters at the time of Noah.

You are our God, who in the sea, and at the hands of Moses, delivered the Hebrews from the bondage of Pharaoh.

You are our God who cleaved the rock in the wilderness, so that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed, and your thirsty people were satisfied.

You are our God who, with fire and water and at the hands of Elijah, delivered Israel from the errors of Baal.

THEREFORE, O MASTER, SANCTIFY THIS WATER BY YOUR HOLY SPIRIT.

THEREFORE, O MASTER, SANCTIFY THIS WATER BY YOUR HOLY SPIRIT.

THEREFORE, O MASTER, SANCTIFY THIS WATER BY YOUR HOLY SPIRIT.

Grant sanctification, blessing, cleansing and health to all those who touch it, and to those upon whom it is poured, and to those who receive of it.

Save, O Lord, your servants, our public authorities. Keep them under your protection in peace; subdue under their feet every enemy and adversary; grant them the means of salvation and eternal life, so that your all-holy name may be glorified by the elements, by the angels, by men, by visible and invisible creatures, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and always and for ever and ever.

People: Amen.

Priest: Peace to all.

People: And to your spirit.

Deacon: Bow your heads to the Lord.

People: To You, O Lord.

The Priest, bowing his head, says the following prayer quietly:

Incline your ear, O Lord, and hear us. O You who sanctified the water when You consented to be baptised in the Jordan River: bless us all who, through the bowing of our heads, have signified our bondage, and make us worthy to be filled with your sanctification through the reception and the sprinkling of this water. Let it be, O Lord, for the health of our soul and body.

 

Louder:

For You are our sanctification and we give glory to You, to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and always and for ever and ever.

People: Amen.

The Priest holds the cross upright and dips it into the holy water three times, recites the Troparion of the Theophany:

TROPARION (First Tone)

At your baptism in the River Jordan, O Lord, the worship of the Trinity was revealed, for the voice of the Father bore witness to You by calling You beloved Son; and the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the truth of these words. O Christ God, who appeared and filled the world with light, glory to You!

He then processes through the sanctuary sprinkling the walls and the people with holy water, while all sing this hymn:

IDIOMELON (Sixth Tone)

Choir: Believers, let us praise the great plans of God who works for us: for the only pure and spotless One, being incarnate on account of our fall, purifies us in the Jordan River, sanctifies us together with the waters, and crushes the heads of the dragons in the waters. O brethren, let us therefore draw water with joy, for those who draw it in faith shall be invisibly endowed with the grace of the Spirit, through the presence of Christ God, the Savior of our souls.

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